A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

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pennydata

A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby pennydata » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:34 pm

So I'm asking you to suggest a good text (even expensive) that explains the fugue in all its parts, giving a key for performing it correctly.
This book should teach how many phrases (tema - sottotemi) are present, how to recognize them and above all in what ways the Development (the B part of a Fugue) is written, plus some examples.

I hope to find such a book on a webshop, any language is good for my aim.


Thank you all buddies :merci:

Jeremiah Lawson
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Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby Jeremiah Lawson » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:04 am

A few books that may be helpful

Counterpoint by Kent Kennan

This will be expensive but I believe is still in print and would be easiest to find. Emphasis is on Baroque practice but in a way that includes samples from later and earlier periods. It's the easiest read and the clearest overview that you can also probably find.

The Technique and Spirit of Fugue by George Oldroyd

This is the best and most thorough book I've come across on fugue generally and especially about Bach's fugues but it's an old, out-of-print book that can be EXTREMELY hard to find. It is also a trudge to read in terms of literary style. For more advanced study of fugue go with this one but start with Kennan.

Fuge and Invention [I think] by John Verrall.

This book is out of print, too, I think, but is a nice over-view and includes some stuff about Inventions if memory serves and covers 20th century examples of fugues from Hindemith and Bartok. This "could" be a good primer if you can find it and if you can find it used would potentially be cheaper than either Oldroyd or Kennan but Kennan is the "one" book to get if you "have" to get one even if it's spendy and save your money for other things.

Or hit up a library that has these if that's possible, which is what I did until I could afford the books and wasn't a penniless college student.

rikart

Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby rikart » Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:12 am

Joseph Groocock, a much loved professor of music in Trinity College, Dublin, wrote an admirable book on this topic, using the fugues of Bach as his material for study. There was no Sudoku in his day, and I doubt the puzzle would have interested him. However, he fully exercised his brilliant mind by setting himself the task of writing a fugue, every day.

A review of the book reads; "Eminently readable despite the complexity of its subject, this book guides the reader in studying the 48 fugues of the composer's Well-Tempered Clavier. Author Joseph Groocock analyzes each of the fugues individually, both verbally and diagrammatically, and includes such elements as overall structure, episodes, stretto, subsidiary subjects, and counter-subjects. Meanwhile, the volume's editor supplies comparative analyses using current and previous scholarship on every fugue illustrating where the author supports or challenges other viewpoints. In all, the analyses contained here establish the extraordinary diversity of Bach's fugal style in such a way that reader and researcher alike gain a new understanding of these significant and beautiful works of music."

The publication details are:

Fugal Composition: A Guide to the Study of Bach's '48'
By Joseph Groocock, Yo Tomita (Ed.)
Edition : illustrated
Published by Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003
ISBN 0313323232, 9780313323232
230 pages

You can get the book from the usual online sources.

jorpheus

Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby jorpheus » Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:29 am

Thank you very much for the interesting references.

The book by Oldroyd, published in 1948, Oxford, can be found on a b e b o o k (as also the other more recent ones). I just ordered one, for about 20 Euros incl. shipping.

pennydata

Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby pennydata » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:29 pm

That's Splendid! you're very kind and I think I will go in search for all of them



:merci: :bravo: :merci: :bravo: :merci:

Jeremiah Lawson
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Location: Seattle

Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby Jeremiah Lawson » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:23 pm

20 euros is an amazing deal for Oldroyd. I've seen people on a certain unnamed company try selling that book for $180! Careful with abebooks to make sure they have it and keep on them about delivery. I've ordered through them and their selection can be good but they sometimes need check-ups.

jorpheus

Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby jorpheus » Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:51 pm

Hello,

I have already bought rather many old books there and have not been disappointed. And yes, the prices are interesting in general, it depends. Often better than on other sites.

All the best,

jorpheus

rikart

Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby rikart » Thu May 12, 2011 10:24 am

Here's another suggestion; I discovered this interesting video on Youtube in which the author writes a fugue for the viewers whilst explaining the process as writes it. Here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-qjwNshB10

Also, while you're in his channel, listen to his fugue based on a Lady Gaga song!

amezcua

Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby amezcua » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:46 am

See below.
Last edited by amezcua on Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

amezcua

Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby amezcua » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:47 am

Best Bach sheet music value I`ve ever had is The Well Tempered Clavier Books 1 and 2 (combined in one book ). For £7.75p for piano .Printed by Dover Publications Inc. 202 pages . Sample Prelude 8 in E flat minor played by Rosalyn Tureck on piano. Delicious and slow. Any guitar would melt in your hands playing that .

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Vlad Kosulin
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Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby Vlad Kosulin » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:00 am

Few public domain books on Fugue (including books by Prout) can be downloaded for free from http://archive.org, but these are much above my level of comprehension :D
Regards,
Vlad
(still testing various strings with 2006 Sebastian Stenzel and Olinda OC-300)

jack_cat
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Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby jack_cat » Wed May 22, 2013 6:28 pm

I would like to put in my two cents worth on this topic.

The Study of Fugue (Dover Books on Music) by Alfred Mann - has excerpts from several 18th century authors. It begins with very simple teaching examples by J J Fux with themes consisting of as few as three or four notes, and beginning with just two parts.

Necessary preliminary study:

Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum by Johann Joseph Fux and Alfred Mann

It's also very valuable to analyze the Bach (2-part) Inventions, which are all actual fugues in two voices showing a wide variety of techniques, and which are almost playable on the guitar (the range goes down to a B below the low E string and to a high C on the 20th fret, so if you transpose a few bass notes up an octave and are willing to do some crawling around above the 12th fret, you can do it, although I wouldn't expect anyone to actually perform them). Fugue is a procedure, not a form, and there are many curious and ingenious examples presented in the Inventions of different ways of conceiving a fugue.

A very eye-opening book which includes an amazing analysis of the first invention, is
Bach and the Patterns of Invention by Laurence Dreyfus

Counterpoint on the guitar is a tough nut to crack. Good luck.

- jack

bchi123
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Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby bchi123 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:22 am

+1 for The Study of Fugue by Mann. I found it to be pretty useful.
When words leave off, music begins. ~Heinrich Heine

Jeremiah Lawson
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Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby Jeremiah Lawson » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:31 pm

Something I found helpful as I began to study counterpoint was keeping in mind that in many respects it developed in Western music as a set of guidelines for unaccompanied polyphonic vocal music. Not that there aren't countless fugues for instruments but the experience of singing in choirs for years reinforced for me at a literal and visceral level that the rules that don't make any sense to instrumental students are bedrock, sensible prohibitions for a set of singers who have no instrumental accompaniment, can't afford to lose intonation or pitch, and who have to participate in singing multiple tunes under a conductor. Rules that in some styles might not make sense at first glance (like avoid descending melodic sixths) make sense once you learn how easily the average singer overshoots the descent by maybe a quarter tone or so that begins to sink the stability of pitch control.

So if some of the rules and guidelines seem esoteric, abstract, and pointless, keep in mind that a lot of the guidelines were developed to manage the restrictions of strictly vocal music. And, of course, these days choirs show consistently that even many of those "rules" can be "broken".

It's probably been said before but I personally find it worth repeating, and since the restrictions on what the average or less-than-average choir can do are about as stringent as the limitations of the guitar it may be helpful to keep in mind when reading about instrumental fugues. To that end, avail yourself of as many examples from Renaissance vocal polyphony and Baroque music as possible. The fugue didn't really die out in subsequent periods but some basic approaches changed from about Haydn on to the present. True countersubjects are rare these days and have been since the end of the Baroque period, sometimes being relabeled (as best I can guess) as "second subject".

jack_cat
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Re: A specific book for comprehending the Fugue

Postby jack_cat » Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:07 am

Being as it´s pretty difficult for guitarists to study Bach fugues, we need another approach. I have been digging deeper into 16th century lute music (although I´m starting late and probably won't catch up with any lute player), and there are an awful lot of good lute fugues, although they are usually constructed with sequential themes after the manner of a motet, and don't use the same techniques as Baroque fugues. Narvaez has some really nice ones with four voice entries at the modal nodes, although not with four sustained florid voices which is just plain too hard for six strings and four fingers. (Edit: I mean it is rare to find four florid voices together. There are lots of passages in four voice chords, note against note. When Luis MIlan wrote these passages he usually included a few parallel fifths and octaves just to thumb his nose at future pedants.)

I suggest that any guitar player who wants to study counterpoint should buy a cheap requinto and tune it like a lute and get into it. You can buy a perfectly good requinto for about 200 bucks USD, anywhere there is a pocket of Mexican cultural activity.

My new insight into composing fugue on the guitar is that it is very useful to confine the voices to their plagal and authentic ranges! This turns out to be a wonderful key to figuring out how to fit four voices onto the guitar, because it restricts the range to the gamut and takes away the question of "needing more range" than the guitar actually has. The guitar has more range than the gamut - if you can learn to restrict your four voices to the modal ranges and within the gamut (except for an additional f'' and g'' at the top, used by all lute composers), then the problem of range is removed entirely.
Typically the bass must be plagal, the tenor authentic, the alto plagal and the soprano authentic. Some of the soprano ranges - Lydian and Mixolydian - are theoretically truncated because they are beyond the gamut, but that didn't stop lute players from using those high notes, and composers had started to go beyond the gamut early in the 15th century anyway at both top and bottom.

Regarding Jeremiah´s comment - "So if some of the rules and guidelines seem esoteric, abstract, and pointless, keep in mind that a lot of the guidelines were developed to manage the restrictions of strictly vocal music. " I have this to say --

The marriage of species counterpoint and modal counterpoint was not made in heaven. Fux´s invocation of Palestrina (which occurs in his introduction) was strictly rhetorical (like invoking Orpheus or any number of classical Greek and Roman authors as was the custom), and it has been taken seriously by all authors since who, like Jeppesen, have led us all down a rabbit hole in search of the Authentic 16th Century Style in which to compose our species counterpoint exercises. It should become quickly apparent to any lute player that 16th century lute players did not follow the vocal style rules as taught in modern courses. Palestrina's style was an anomaly produced under the intense political pressure of the post-Tridentine Counter-Reformation, and most other 16th century composers and certainly most instrumental ones folllowed a far looser set of rules. I have compiled quite a list of "counterpoint errors" in various composers from Milan to Dowland -- parallel 5ths and 8ves, diminished fifths against the bass, cross relations which were much loved not only by Mudarra and Dowland, unsingable lines, and instrumental idioms which are certainly unsingable.

It is also notable that the modern books on modal counterpoint seem to all completely ignore the question of the mutation of the hexachords, which was the basis of 16th century chromaticism and really deserves a good look. The whole model of species counterpoint is twisted, in its modern form, towards the support of anachronistic 19th and 20th c. ideas of functional harmony - i.e., the Dorian mode equals the ii chord and so on. Also, the erasing by Jeppesen of the F-major Lydian and its replacement by C-Major Ionian appears to me to be another example of cherry-picking Renaissance theory for functional-harmony-friendly concepts, like the attribution of major and minor triads to Zarlino, who didn't quite say what he has been said to have said.

And just to beat up on species counterpoint a little more, let me point out that constructing cadences according to the models given in each species by Fux and his successors results in artificial cadences resembling almost nothing that any 16th c. composer actually wrote.

The simplest and most logical interpretations of the movements of species counterpoint will get the job done, and Fux himself did this quite well without loading us down with too many style rules. It is really hard to re-create a historical style, and at all times in history that I can identify that a historical style has been revived, it always comes in a new flavor. Trying to reproduce the style exactly is a pedantic exercise that seriously interferes with actual creative process. Sometime we have to get over it and just write some music the way we want to.

Maybe I will post more about this when I feel more confident of the subject!
jack
Last edited by jack_cat on Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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